Friday, 25 August 2017

Scraps and a new Bread Recipe

When you first start out sewing, you might find it hard to come by materials without spending a lot of money. Yet after a few years most crafters find themselves with an ever growing stash of fabrics, some still sizable enough to be used for future projects, but the bigger mountain is always made up of those scraps of fabrics, too big to throw out but to small and cut-into for most projects. Yet if you throw them out you can be sure that you will need tiny amounts of exactly the scraps you've just thrown away in the near future. I'm always hovering between my tidy minimalistic side that wants to get rid of all those tiny unmanageable bits and my thrifty crafty side that shies away from throwing out anything the might come in useful. So I ended up storing my fabric scraps in various boxes, out of sight and out of mind, which meant that I never really used them at all. After doing some internet research for storing ideas I found this metal basket in a local shop.

It doesn't look the tidiest, but I can just throw the scraps in and they are stowed away but still in sight. And the basket at least is pretty. It would help if I got another one as it's always overflowing. But having the basket in full sight means that I occasionally do feel the urge to sew something with some of those beautiful scraps. Again the internet is great for getting ideas, but my latest idea came from something I've seen in a shop in a town while looking for some birthday presents. They were tiny fabric dogs with a chain and key ring. It's not easy to sew something that small, not for me with my basic sewing machine skills anyway, but I tried some heart shapes, not too small, that came out decent enough. So I did a few different shapes. They're far from perfectly sewn but look alright from if you don't look too closely. 

I used a different kind of scraps (paper) to decorate a folder for my recipes. It was good to cut up some old magazines that could throw out afterwards. While making lots of recipes from the internet I don't like having to use my phone or the computer while cooking. So I usually copy the recipes in handwriting (we don't have a printer), which gives me the possibility to note down all the changes that I might make. My newest addition is a porridge bread recipe that a friend has mentioned when I told her of my decision to make our bread myself. Her mother is making it all the time and after trying it out yesterday I think I will too. The recipe can be found here.


The whole home-baking business is going surprisingly well. I expected to cave in after a week and just buy bread in the supermarket but so far I haven't. It's getting addictive and I find myself looking forward to baking the next bread. Though I have to say that this wouldn't be the case if I had a job. It's easier when you're home the whole day even with a toddler to mind. In fact, baking bread is a way to keep Aidan busy. He loves kneading the dough and always manages to sneak some into his mouth.

The sourdough starter worked out as well after a few difficulties at the beginning. I hated the idea of having to throw out half of the dough at every feeding, so I only fed it a little flour and water every day, but that was wrong. Eventually I followed the instructions here and it worked wonders. Well, that is to say my starter dough was certainly ready for baking.

And when I made the bread dough it rose beautifully... only to turn into a brick in the oven.

It wasn't as bad as it looks though. When I cut the loaf, it looked spongey like it should on the inside and it tasted ok. Adrian, who loves sourdough bread, gave it the thumbs up. So I won't regard it as a failure. I haven't baked since and store the starter dough in the fridge. Hopefully my next attempt will make a fluffier looking loaf!


Thursday, 3 August 2017

Home Baking

Lately I've been very conscious about unnecessary additives you find in commercially sold bread. The obvious answer to this problem is of course to bake your own bread. The only problem I had with this is the fact that all my loaves turn out to be quite dense and even when they tasted good spread with butter or as a side to soup they just wouldn't make proper sandwiches. So I started browsing the internet to find a recipe that would make a fluffier bread. I found this site and thought I might give the recipe a try. And I'm glad I did: Usually recipes I make don't turn out like the should even when tasting fine but this bread actually looked like in the picture shown on the site. Even though I substituted kefir for the milk (I do this whenever I can to use up the huge amounts of kefir that my grains yield) and used a cup of wholemeal wheat flour.

As for the taste, I will have to play around with seasonings a bit the next time, but I was very happy with the texture. Adrian and Aidan were too, so there wasn't much left by the time I remembered to take the picture. It did make lovely toast like it said on the website but it also worked as sandwich. So I expect we'll have more of this bread in the future. 

The other recipe I tried out is this one . Not only did it look beautiful but the quick-no-knead-heading appealed to me as well. I had never heard of a Dutch oven but I figured it must be close to a cast-iron casserole dish which it said you can use instead. I was a bit nervous because of the high temperatures and handling the hot casserole but everything turned out fine. The bread rose beautifully even without kneading and it tasted very good. It's not a sandwich-style bread but I did't expect it to be. I will certainly do it again. It does say to let it rise for 12 to 18 hours or 6 hours in an oven with only the light turned on but mine had risen well after two hours in an oven with set to about 30 degrees celsius.

There's another recipe I'd like to try but I have to be a bit patient for that as I need to make the sourdough starter first which will take a few days. I've made sourdough bread before but wasn't very happy with it. It came out very dense and quite hard. After reading up on this useful website  I figured that I probably didn't knead it enough and didn't let it rise enough. I am ready to give it another try now. I've started making the starter dough two days ago with just flour and water and I'm very curious how it will turn out and if I will be lucky enough to "catch some wild yeasts". It's a bit like trying to trap wild birds I think, you just lay the trap and hope some of them will be lured into it. The first day nothing seemed to have happened but this morning there were a few bubbles in the dough and a vinegary smell so I might be lucky.

My kitchen is getting pretty crowded with all the cultures feeding away: kefir, yeast and sourdough. A few years ago this really would have bothered me, but now I think doesn't look messy, just lived-in and cosy.